For The Associated Press

Richard Castle has become one of the best murder mystery novelists in the business, and that’s great for a man who doesn’t exist. He’s a TV character played by Nathan Fillion on ABC’s “Castle.”

“Frozen Heat,” the fourth novel featuring NYPD homicide detective Nikki Heat, is the best yet.

Heat became a cop after the murder of her mother. The case was never solved, and it has haunted her for years. When a victim is found stuffed into a suitcase and shoved inside a freezer truck, Heat thinks it will be another routine case. As she begins looking over the evidence, she realizes the suitcase is familiar. It was her mother’s and disappeared on the day she was killed. How do the two cases tie together? And will exposing secrets about her mother’s past put Heat in danger?

Sex, suspense — and laughs — abound.

“Frozen Heat” delivers a worthy mystery in the noir tradition. A reader can enjoy the story without having seen the TV series. Fans of “Castle” will discover extra elements such as in-jokes and characters bearing a striking resemblance to their television counterparts. And the plot involving Heat’s mother ties in with the start of the fifth season of the ABC show.

Fans and newcomers alike will find this frozen concoction heartwarming.

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